During the American Revolution, two hundred and thirty three years ago, Alexander Hamilton visited the Great Falls with General Washington and General LaFayette. They stopped directly across from where the Hamilton statue stands for a picnic lunch in what is now Mary Ellen Kramer Park.
From that simple lunch a great city emerged... a city unlike any other in America... a city of firsts.
Alexander Hamilton, our first Secretary of the Treasury, and an immigrant from the island of Nevis, founded Paterson in 1792 asAmerica’s first industrial city.
In 1836 Samuel Colt began manufacturing the first Colt Revolvers in the Colt Gun Mill.
The first silk produced in America was produced in that same mill by an English immigrant named John Ryle. This started the industry that would make Paterson famous. Paterson would produce more silk than any other place on earth.
Thomas Rogers, a local machinist, built the first American-built locomotive here launching the American locomotive industry. Paterson would produce more locomotives than any other city in America.
John Holland, an Irish immigrant, invented and tested the first modern submarine just above the Falls. We are fortunate to have the only two John Holland submarines in existence at the Paterson Museum.
To those who question whether Paterson should be a National Park I quote our Congressman... “they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Paterson holds a special place in the history of America: Native American history, labor relations history, and our parents and grandparents hold a special place in the American story of immigration that provided the labor for the mills that produced everything from candles to locomotives to the torch in the hand of the Statue of Liberty.
Visitors can travel to Niagara to see waterfalls...
They can travel to Hartford to learn the history of Colt revolvers.
They can travel to Groton to learn about submarines.
And they can travel out west to learn about the Native Americans.
Or, they can simply come to Paterson to learn about all of these things and much more.
It is entirely appropriate that the statue of Alexander Hamilton stands before the Great Falls where Hamilton was inspired to build America’s first industrial city.
I am proud that during my second term as Mayor I was invited to Washington in 2009 for the bill signing by President Obama. It was a great historical moment for Congressman Pascrell, Paterson and all Patersonians.
For the National Park Service this Great Falls National Park makes Paterson their 397th National Park. But, for Paterson and Patersonians this day means much more. It marks a new beginning for our city and a unique opportunity to embrace our past to build a better future for Paterson and all Patersonians. I hope we are as inspired moving forward as Alexander Hamilton was more than 200 years ago.